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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66644
Recording details: January 1996
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs & Lindsay Pell
Release date: March 1993
Total duration: 8 minutes 23 seconds

'Every number brings new riches, and two have never been recorded before. Indeed, 'The Way of God' is a revelation' (BBC Music Magazine Top 1000 CDs Guide)

'This disc is full of the wonderful writing that we expect from Purcell … that is becoming better known and understood through Robert King's performances' (Fanfare, USA)

'Every number brings new riches and two have never been recorded before. This magnificent project shows no signs of flagging' (BBC CD Review)

The way of God is an undefiled way, Z56
author of text
Psalm 18: 30-32, 34, 38-42, 48-50

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The way of God is an undefiled way is one of Purcell’s last anthems, written for the celebrations that marked the return of King William to London from Flanders on November 11th 1694. The king had been campaigning on the Continent for several months, and his most notable achievement had been the taking of Huy. The text of the anthem was carefully chosen from Psalm 18 for its topical allusions to a victorious king. Purcell’s setting shows many of the hallmarks of his later style, with the music falling into a number of relatively short contrasting sections, inside which are condensed many musical devices and compositional techniques.

The opening is smooth, the trio of solo voices anchored by a slowly moving bass line, and key words picked out with melismas. At ‘It is God’ the solo bass (originally John Gostling) takes on the role of the strong warrior, accompanied by a determined, two-note repeated bass figuration: the two upper voices question in thirds ‘Who is God?’, and are answered again by the bass. A longer section of florid semi-recitative for the bass follows, the enemies graphically thrown down the musical scale, and then smitten ‘that they shall not be able to stand’: defeated, they fall to the furthest extremes of the voice. The two upper voices (much in the style of the Te Deum and Jubilate, first performed just ten days later) give thanks in fluid style, their alleluias answered and taken up by the full choir. Once again the bass sings of the destruction of his enemies, beating them ‘as small as the dust’ and weaving intricate melismas on ‘turn’, ‘destroy’ and ‘cast’, his range of over two octaves being used to superb dramatic effect.

The duet ‘They shall cry’ finds Purcell at his most appealingly mournful, full of angular intervals and tortured suspensions, before a running bass line returns to a more positive sentiment, that ‘The Lord liveth’. The two upper voices are equally convinced at ‘Great prosperity giveth he’, and the bass is given yet another fine piece of pictorialisation, set high in his voice ‘above mine adversaries’. The theme at ‘Great prosperity’ is extended and developed, this time for all three voices, the word ‘evermore’ suitably illustrated with extremely long phrases, and the anthem ends with ringing Alleluias.

from notes by Robert King ©

Other albums featuring this work
'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44141/51  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
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